Lexus IS sales are currently split around 50:50 between fleet and retail customers. And while the new hybrid IS 300h will be aimed at the former market, private buyers are still expected to opt for the IS 250, powered by the 2.5-litre petrol engine from the current car.
Our test car was disguised and the model won’t be unveiled until next month’s Detroit Motor Show, but its looks will be inspired by the LF-CC concept. The new IS uses the same platform as the latest GS, giving a longer wheelbase and wider track than the current car.
Inside, there’s more space, particularly in the rear, while the front seats are now mounted lower, meaning a sportier driving position and extra headroom.
A higher centre console will also feature, along with improved trim materials – judging from the parts of the interior left exposed on our test car. The gearshifter has a higher-quality feel, too.
On the move, the V6 makes the same sonorous noise as before, although it’s not quite as smooth as Jaguar’s latest 3.0-litre V6 for the XF and XJ. Performance is sharp, however: the petrol engine and auto box combination is more responsive than the hybrid’s drivetrain.
Steering and braking are more precise, too, and you can tailor the driving experience with Drive Mode Select, which offers Eco, Normal or Sport S settings.